Monday, June 20, 2011

ReView of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams

Science Fiction - 815pgs
Ballantine Books (first published 1992)

Just as a cautionary note please don't see the movie before you read the book.  You'll end up experiencing the same thing I did, if you're anything like me.  All throughout the book I kept imaging the voices of the characters from the movie as I was reading their text in the book.  If you have already seen the movie, then good luck!

Here are ten things I will never forget after reading this great piece of science fiction:

2. There are NO Big Coincidences, just small coincidences
3. Mice are experimenting on us, not the other way around
4. Paranoia is perfectly normal, happens all across the Universe
5. Aliens that come to Earth are just rich kids in the Universe with nothing to do but 'buzz' Earthmen
6. If we would know why a bowl of petunias say "Oh no, not again." as they are falling through the Universe, we'd know a lot more about the Universe than we do now
7. Dolphins have been trying to send us all kinds of messages about the end of the Earth, and the final message "was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the "Star Spangled Banner", but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish."
8. The edge of the Earth is 12min away
9. The Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42
10. Always carry a towel with you

There are so many ingeniously created scenes filled with imagination and humor.  First off, the "GPP's" was the most incredibly funny concept in the whole book, for me.  It stands for "Genuine People Personalities" and these GPPs were installed in almost all the electronics.  So you'd have a computer answer you with the following "All I want to do is make your day nicer and nicer and nicer..." HILARIOUS!

Arthur panicking all the time was extremely hilarious because the big message on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was DON'T PANIC.  And no one else panicked, except him, so it was even more exaggerated in that sense.

Talking philosophy and the meaning of existence with a Vogon was one of the most hilarious parts in the book.  They (Arthur and Ford) get captured by the Vogons and as they are being carried in the arms of the Vogons who are continuously yelling and repeating 'Resistance is useless,' Ford gets the idea to try to talk him out of leaving his post as a Vogon guard by enticing him at first with a little philosophical question of existence.... which of course, doesn't work at all, and it feels like you're banging your head a against a wall.... Mind-bogglingly funny.

Zaphod's level of stupidity is always entertainning.  It hurt my stomach, actually.

There are three funny scenes I want to put on here, for some quick humor enjoyment.
First is a scene where a Vogon reads poetry to the prisoners, the main characters, Ford and Arthur.  It's supposed to be the worst thing you could experience.  Here is that scene, it's hilarious.

The Vogon began to read - a fetid little passage of his own devising. 
"Oh freddled gruntbuggly . . . " he began. Spasms wracked Ford's body - this was worse than ever he'd been prepared for.
"? . . . thy micturations are to me - As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee." 
"Aaaaaaarggggghhhhhh!" went Ford Prefect, wrenching his head back as lumps of pain thumped through it. He could dimly see beside him Arthur lolling and rolling in his seat. He clenched his teeth.
"Groop I implore thee," continued the merciless Vogon, "my foonting turlingdromes."
His voice was rising to a horrible pitch of impassioned stridency. "And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,/ Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!"
"Nnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyuuuuuuurrrrrrrggggggghhhhh!" cried Ford Prefect and threw one fi nal spasm as the electronic enhancement of the last line caught him full blast across the temples. He went limp.
Arthur lolled.
"Now Earthlings . . . " whirred the Vogon (he didn't know that Ford Prefect was in fact from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and wouldn't have cared if he had) "I present you with a simple choice! Either die in the vacuum of space, or . . . " he paused for melodramatic e ect, "tell me how good you thought my poem was!"
He threw himself backwards into a huge leathery bat-shaped seat and watched them. He did the smile again.
Ford was rasping for breath. He rolled his dusty tongue round his parched mouth and moaned.
Arthur said brightly: "Actually I quite liked it."
Ford turned and gaped. Here was an approach that had quite simply not occurred to him.
The Vogon raised a surprised eyebrow that e lectively obscured his nose and was therefore no bad thing.
"Oh good . . . " he whirred, in considerable astonishment.
"Oh yes," said Arthur, "I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was really particularly effective."
Ford continued to stare at him, slowly organizing his thoughts around this totally new concept. Were they really going to be able to bareface their way out of this?
"Yes, do continue . . . " invited the Vogon. 
"Oh . . . and, er . . . interesting rhythmic devices too," continued Arthur, "which seemed to counterpoint the . . . er . . . er . . . " he  floundered.
Ford leaped to his rescue, hazarding "counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the . . . er . . ." He  floundered too, but Arthur was ready again.". . . humanity of the . . . "
"Vogonity," Ford hissed at him.
"Ah yes, Vogonity - sorry - of the poet's compassionate soul," - Arthur felt he was on a home stretch now - ,"which contrives through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that, and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other," - he was reaching a triumphant crescendo - "and one is left with a profound and vivid insight into . . . into . . . er . . . " (which suddenly gave out on him.)
Ford leaped in with the coup de grace:
"Into whatever it was the poem was about!" he yelled. Out of the corner of his mouth: "Well done, Arthur, that was very good."
The Vogon perused them. For a moment his embittered racial soul had been touched, but he thought no - too little too late. His voice took on the quality of a cat snagging brushed nylon.
"So what you're saying is that I write poetry because underneath my mean callous heartless exterior I really just want to be loved," he said. He paused. "Is that right?"
Ford laughed a nervous laugh. "Well I mean yes," he said, "don't we all, deep down, you know . . . er . . . "
The Vogon stood up.
"No, well you're completely wrong," he said, "I just write poetry to throw my mean callous heartless exterior into sharp relief. I'm going to throw you out of the ship anyway. Guard! Take the prisoners to number three airlock and throw them out!" 

The Second is a scene with Zeeblebrox, the idiot:
The President of the Galaxy had arrived.
He waited for the applause to die down, then raised his hands in greeting.
"Hi," he said.
A government spider sidled up to him and attempted to press a copy of his prepared speech into his hands. Pages three to seven of the original version were at the moment floating soggily on the Damogran sea some five miles out from the bay. Pages one and two had been salvaged by a Damogran Frond Crested Eagle and had already become incorporated into an extraordinary new form of nest which the eagle had invented. It was constructed largely of papier mache and it was virtually impossible for a newly hatched baby eagle to break out of it. The Damogran Frond Crested Eagle had heard of the notion of survival of the species but wanted no truck with it. Zaphod Beeblebrox would not be needing his set speech and he gently detected the one being o ered him by the spider.
"Hi," he said again.
Everyone beamed at him, or, at least, nearly everyone. He singled out Trillian from the crowd. Trillian was a gird that Zaphod had picked up recently whilst visiting a planet, just for fun, incognito. She was slim, darkish, humanoid, with long waves of black hair, a full mouth, an odd little nob of a nose and ridiculously brown eyes. With her red head scarf knotted in that particular way and her long  owing silky brown dress she looked vaguely Arabic. Not that anyone there had ever heard of an Arab of course. The Arabs had very recently ceased to exist, and even when they had existed they were five hundred thousand light years from Damogran. Trillian wasn't anybody in particular, or so Zaphod claimed. She just went around with him rather a lot and told him what she thought of him.
"Hi honey," he said to her.
She  ashed him a quick tight smile and looked away. Then she looked back for a moment and smiled more warmly - but by this time he was looking at something else. 
"Hi," he said to a small knot of creatures from the press who were standing nearby wishing that he would stop saying Hi and get on with the quotes.

And the third is of one of the jokes about the policemen who were after them:
"Now see here, guy," said the voice, "you're not dealing with any dumb two-bit trigger-pumping morons with low hairlines, little piggy eyes and no conversation, we're a couple of intelligent caring guys that you'd probably quite like if you met us socially! I don't go around gratuitously shooting people and then bragging about it afterwards in seedy space-rangers bars, like some cops I could mention! I go around shooting people gratuitously and then I agonize about it afterwards for hours to my girlfriend!"
"And I write novels!" chimed in the other cop. "Though I haven't had any of them published yet, so I better warn you, I'm in a meeeean mood!" 


Also, one last thing I want to add about the book.  Douglas Adams is definitely one of the most incredible writters I've read so far.  He BLEW my mind with this book.  How he ever thought of all the things you encounter in the book, I'll never know probably.  Hiss style of writing is also so free and natural and unexpected, too. Once I started I couldn't put it down nor did I want it to end.  This is absolutely one of my favorite books for the imagination, for the writing style, and absolutely for the humor.  It's really a MUST-Read book, in my opinion!


The movie is a must-see.  I really enjoyed the visual aspects of the movie, but wasn't so pleased with the scenes that weren't really from the book.  I don't know why they went ahead and changed the plot in certain spots.  Some of the things in the movie NEVER happened in the book: they never stop at a different planet on the way to Magrathea, Trillian isn't Arabic, the talk about Madagascar and love between Trillian and Arthur, the time portal in the movie, the gun which is meant for the men to see things from the point of view of the shooter, and Marvin never shoots the policemen with it.  Additionally, Zaphod isn't really full realized in the movie, which brings down the movie a little bit because Zaphod is the big contrast to the other characters.

Aside from all that I loved how the movie started with a tribute to the Dolphins.  I enjoyed the narrator's voice although he does sound very close to the guy who narrates the National Geographic series like Planet Earth.  I like how they visually created the Vogons, I can't imagine a better version of them.  The first time I watched the movie, I didn't quite notice the GPP doors, this time around it was very noticeable, but they weren't as funny as the book. The scene with the whale and the petunias are definitely much more visually appealing in the movie than when you're reading about them in the book.

There are few really funny parts in the movie like when Ford is trying to shake hands with a car because he thinks it's the dominant form on Earth; when Zaphod meets Tricia McMillian and says to her 'I'm from another planet, you wanna see my spaceship' (lmao!)...what a line; the little crab on Magrathea going 'Weee.... Weee.... Weee... ' (this part was so cute and funny).  Oh and by far my most favorite comical section of the movie is when they get slapped for thinking, having ideas, or having any thoughts of imagination.  Here's the link to that, it's a MUST-SEE!: Check it out at time 4:20 .  Then of course is the lemon juicer on Zaphod's head to keep him sane and functioning.... I honestly don't know what to think of that, it blows my mind!

And the ultimate one.  'You'll be late'.... 'Late for what?'..... 'Late, as in the late Arthur'.... 'It's a threat, get it?'.... LMAO ... I didn't get this in the book, but when I saw the movie, it totally made sense to me, it's a good one!

Good Movie! Read the Book and See it!

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